Tag to "Borderland"- Abby's thoughts after McGee volunteers to be a hostage.
After our little encounter with the drug lords, nobody really feels like learning, and I certainly don't feel like teaching. I wrap up the last half-hour of material in ten minutes, hoping that no one can hear my voice shaking. My students don't seem that fazed by what happened. I wonder the threat of violence is such a normal part of their lives that they are no longer surprised by it.
Finally, we're settled in the back of the car that will take us back to our hotel. McGee and I are both quiet. I'm sitting on my hands, trying to stop the trembling. McGee is looking out the window. I remember what happened, less than an hour ago.
"My name is Timothy McGee. I'm a United States federal agent. I'm worth a lot to them. Let these people go, and you can take me, OK?" I could tell he was afraid by the soft tone and slight shakiness of his voice. Still, he held out his badge and offered himself, with no hesitation.
I watch him now, as we ride. He looks out his window for a bit. Then his eyes dart to the side, past me and out my window. Back and forth. I realize he is still on alert, still watching for danger. Still trying to protect me.
I'm not sure how to process all this, or maybe I just don't want to admit that I'm still scared. So I do what comes naturally to me. I punch him in the arm.
"Oww!" he shrieks, his voice going up two octaves. "What was that for?"
"For being stupid!"
"For volunteering to be a hostage to those scary people with the guns. The Reynosa Drug Cartel? Really, McGee?"
"I didn't know they were from the Reynosa Drug Cartel at that point, Abby," he protests, rubbing his sore arm.
"Wasn't one time being a hostage in a foreign country enough? Did you trip to Somalia give you some kind of thirst for danger? What were you thinking, McGee?"
He shrugs. I can see the driver watching us in the rearview mirror, grinning a bit. I wonder how much English he understands.
"I figured an American federal agent would be worth more to any kidnappers than a bunch of local civilians." Logical and analytical, as he always is.
"Two. You mean two Americans."
He shakes his head and looks directly at me. "I wouldn't have let them take you, Abby."
I swallow the lump in my throat. I know he wouldn't, or that he would have done everything in his power to stop that from happening. It's why I'm still shaking now. Well, that and those rather large automatic weapons the bad guys were pointing at us.
I know I owe him more credit than I've been giving him. At the very least, I owe him my thanks. But saying that out loud would make everything real. It's easier to make jokes and toss insults and be light-hearted. It makes the danger seem less scary.
He sighs quietly, almost inaudibly, and looks past me out the window again. His eyes look sad, and maybe still a little scared. I feel my selfish desire for control crumbling.
"Well, that lady was right about one thing."
"You are a brave man, Timothy McGee. Stupid, but brave."
He shrugs again and looks away, but I can tell by the red tint of his ears that he is pleased.
The car is stopping now. We're at the hotel. He looks around once more before opening the door. I get out as well. McGee mumbles something, but I'm too far away to hear.
"What did you say?"
"I said 'dibs on the shower.'" He grabs his bag and sprints towards the hotel, and suddenly our relationship is back to normal. What a relief.
"No fair!" I shout, running after him. "You can't call dibs when you're not in sight of the object being dibbed!"